Growl, once a staple of the Mac desktop experience, has been retired
November 30, 2020
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A Growl notification.

A Growl notification.

Growl, a key part of the Mac desktop experience for 17 years, is being retired. Christopher Forsythe, who acted as the lead developer for the project for years, announced the retirement in a blog post on Friday.

Launched in 2004, Growl provided notifications for applications on Macs (it was also offered for Windows) before Apple introduced its own Notification Center. Notification Center was added to macOS (then styled Mac OS X) in the Mountain Lion update in 2012, but it first debuted on iOS a year earlier.

Here’s a snippet of Forsythe’s announcement:

Growl is being retired after surviving for 17 years. With the announcement of Apple’s new hardware platform, a general shift of developers to Apple’s notification system, and a lack of obvious ways to improve Growl beyond what it is and has been, we’re announcing the retirement of Growl as of today.

It’s been a long time coming. Growl is the project I worked on for the longest period of my open source career. However at WWDC in 2012 everyone on the team saw the writing on the wall. This was my only WWDC. This is the WWDC where Notification Center was announced. Ironically Growl was called Global Notifications Center, before I renamed it to Growl because I thought the name was too geeky. There’s even a sourceforge project for Global Notifications Center still out there if you want to go find it.

He went on to recall that Growl was developed in part because popular messaging app Adium and IRC client Colloquy needed different types of notifications than were available at the time. Generally, developers were designing and implementing their own proprietary solutions for notifications, which were not always ideal experiences for users.

When installed, Growl appeared in the Mac OS X system preferences pane, acting as the notifications service for the platform—that is, until the previously mentioned Notification Center debuted. As Forsythe noted above, the writing was on the wall as soon as Apple made that announcement.

It seems Apple’s new shift in architecture and other factors have led to the official sunsetting of Growl now, though Growl had been supported only at a basic level for some time.

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